Japan has announced its withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) next year, and will resume commercial hunting in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone from July.
“From July 2019, after the withdrawal comes into effect on June 30, Japan will conduct commercial whaling within Japan’s territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone, and will cease the take of whales in the Antarctic Ocean/the Southern Hemisphere,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a statement.
“The whaling will be conducted in accordance with international law and within the catch limits calculated in accordance with the method adopted by the IWC to avoid negative impact on cetacean resources,” he said.
Japan said that it would withdraw from an international agreement and resume commercial whaling https://t.co/lkla7vQAwM
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 26, 2018
Japan will also cease whaling activities in the Antarctic Ocean, according to an official statement released Wednesday, and hunt species with so-called “healthy” population numbers.
“The declaration today is out of step with the international community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures,” said Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan. “The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling.”
The announcement drew criticism from anti-whaling groups, activists and governments, with New Zealand regretting the resumption of the “outdated and unnecessary” commercial killing of whales.
Australia called Japan’s decision to withdraw from the IWC “regrettable” and urged Japan to return to the convention as a “matter of priority,” in a statement released Wednesday.
“In its long history, Japan has used whales not only as a source of protein but also for a variety of other purposes,” the statement said. “Engagement in whaling has been supporting local communities, and thereby developed the life and culture of using whales.”
Commercial whaling was banned under a 1986 International Whaling Commission moratorium. But Japan has used a loophole to continue hunting whales legally since 1987 for what it claims is scientific research.
In September 2018, the majority of member nations at the IWC annual symposium in Brazil approved a non-binding resolution stating that commercial whaling was no longer a valid economic activity, or needed for scientific research.